FIFA President Gianni Infantino, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, Development Director for Africa and the Caribbean regions Véron Mosengo-Omba and members of the FIFA administration travelled to Guinea-Bissau this morning to meet with Football Federation of Guinea-Bissau (FFGB) President Manuel Lopes Nascimento.
The first order of duty was a visit to the FFGB headquarters followed by meetings with FFGB executive committee members, as well as club and league representatives affiliated to it, to discuss the progression of football in the country.
The FIFA President and FIFA Secretary General then met with Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Guinea Bissau Aristides Gomes as well as Minister of Sports Camilo Simões Pereira, where Infantino underlined his belief that football is not just a sport but a source that can help to bring about unification.
"Football is unique as it can help to bring about tremendous unification while simultaneously bringing joy, laughter and smiles to men, women and children. FIFA is ready to help Guinea-Bissau to develop football, including at grassroots level and we look forward to working hand in hand with the local authorities and with the FFGB to do so.”
The prime minister and sports minister emphasised the need for FIFA to support the training of coaches in Guinea-Bissau, to improve the levels of football officials and to build/improve football infrastructures.
The last meeting on the agenda was one with President of Guinea-Bissau José Mário Vaz, who warmly received the FIFA delegation at the Presidential Palace in the capital Bissau, while expressing his profound appreciation for FIFA’s high level visit.
Discussions focused on the possibilities for positive change football offers, with President Vaz stating: "I appreciate the unprecedented power of football when our country plays but more specifically when the national selection wins its matches! The social role of football is incredible and it would be an error to overlook it. My government is ready to increase its investment in football and to join efforts with FIFA to mobilise resources for a national stadium that reflects the passion my fellow citizens hold for this sport and I know I can count on FIFA’s support and know-how to reach this noble goal."
The talks also covered Guinea-Bissau’s wealth of talented footballers, many of whom have become household names at major European football clubs in addition to the FIFA Forward Football Development Programme and Football for Schools project.
"Guinea-Bissau is a provider of football talents to many big clubs in Europe and it’s only natural that through our FIFA Forward Programme, which increased four-fold the level of resources allocated to our Member Associations, that we ensure better and higher levels of local talents through tailor made training courses for all football officials and better football infrastructure that responds to international norms and standards," said Infantino.
"We are excited about our Football for Schools project, which will provide a great platform to educate children – through football as football is not just a sport but also a way of living. The implementation of the Football for Schools projects will go a long way on furthering social values and promoting safer and better lifestyles for millions of children around the globe and I’m delighted to be part of this culture for change that is so needed."
When leaving the country both Infantino and Vaz committed to working closely with the FFGB to mobilise resources outside of FIFA to be invested in football infrastructure.